Saints Ready To Open 2002-03 Campaign

Nov. 15, 2002

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Siena Saints (0-0/0-0 MAAC) vs.
Syracuse Orangewomen (0-0/0-0 BIG EAST)

Friday, November 15, 2002 - 7:00 pm
Alumni Recreation Center (4,000) - Loudonville, NY

Coming off the greatest two-year stretch in school history, the Saints open the 2002-2003 season against Syracuse University, who advanced to the NCAA Tournament last season for the first time since 1988. Siena returns all five starters from a team coming off of a 23-win campaign and WNIT showing in 2002.

Siena brings a three-game winning streak against Syracuse into this evening's game. The Saints lead the all-time series with the Orange 4-3. This will be first meeting between the two schools since November of 1992, when Siena opened up the season with a 64-52 victory. Gina Castelli fashions a career 2-0 record against SU.

The winner of tonight's game will face the winner of the Bucknell-Penn State game on Sunday in the second round of the WNIT. After participating in last year's postseason WNIT, this is Siena's first exposure in the preseason tournament

Saints Women's Basketball can be heard on 88.3 WVCR-FM. Fans can also tune in on the internet at the Siena Athletics homepage, The pregame show begins 15 minutes before scheduled tipoff. Eric Kopf will be handling the play-by-play throughout the season.

Career Record: 202-137 .597 (13th year) At Siena: Same Gina Castelli is in her 13th season at the helm of the Siena College women's basketball program. She is the winningest coach in school history, and she has led the Saints to six 20-win seasons in her 12 years. She won the 200th game of her career in the 2002 season finale against Marist. For her efforts Castelli was named Co-MAAC Coach of the Year. She has now won or shared the award six times during her 12 seasons. Prior to coming to Siena, Castelli was a standout performer on the court with Canisius College in Buffalo, N.Y. She still ranks among the school's top three in points, assists and steals, and she was inducted into the Golden Griffins Hall of Fame in October of 1997. She was also an academic All-American while at Canisius and she earned her bachelor's degree in 1986.

Career Record: 207-208 .499 (10th season) The 2001-02 season was the most successful during Freeman's tenure. The Orangewomen won 18 games and advanced to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 1988. Syracuse's winning conference record (9-7) was also its first since the '87-88 team went 13-3. Freeman guided SU to the semifinals of the BIG EAST Championship, the Orangewomen's first semifi-nal appearance since 1988. SU also became only the second seventh seed in tournament history to advance to the semifinals. She was named both the Black Coaches Association Female Coach of the Year and the Basketball Coaches Association of New York Co-Coach of the Year, and won the Vivian Stringer Female Coach of the Year Award from the Rainbow/PUSH Coalition.

The 2002-2003 non-conference schedule could be Siena's toughest in school history. In all, six teams Siena is definitely scheduled to play made postseason play last year. Syracuse, Boston College, Hartford, Florida International and Saint Peter's all made the NCAA Tournament in 2002 while Holy Cross played in the WNIT. Also, Siena has other potential matchups with postseason teams. If the Saints beat Syracuse tonight, they will move on to face the winner of Penn State and Bucknell, both NCAA teams a season ago. In the Hawk Classic in Philadelphia, Siena could play a rematch of the postseason WNIT against Saint Joseph's.

At MAAC Basketball Media Day earlier this month, Siena was the coaches' choice to win it all in the 2002-03 season. Siena has won four of the last five MAAC regular-season championships. Following a vote of the MAAC's 10 head coaches, senior Gunta Basko, the two-time MAAC player of the year and leading scoring and rebounder from a year ago, was named the MAAC Preseason Player of the Year. She is joined on the first team by junior Liene Jansone, while classmate Erica Andersonreceived second team honors. The Saints also received one vote in the AP writers poll.

The college jersey of standout Gunta Baskois currently displayed in the "Ring of Honor" at the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame in Knoxville, Tenn. Basko was named Kodak District 2 All-American after an impressive 2001-2002 season. She was also named Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (MAAC) Player of the Year for a second straight season, and averaged 18.6 points a game. named the Latvian an honorable mention preseason All-American, one of only 27 players to be honored on its All-American teams.

Junior Liene Jansonehas quietly put together two stellar seasons with the Saints that are similar to the numbers posted by her Latavian predecessor, Gunta Baskoin her first two seasons. After two years, Basko had 826 points and 452 rebounds. At the same point in her career, Jansone has 773 points and 306 rebounds despite missing the first seven games last season.

Siena lost just three players from last year's team: seniors Meaghan McGonagle and Chrissy Loeliger (graduation) along with junior transfer Tiziana Franciamore. All told, Siena returns 92% of its scoring, 90% of its rebounding, and over 80% of its assists.

Five Siena players will make their debuts tonight. The freshmen class consists of guards Trish Lyons, Michelle Blot and Gabrielle Doemel along with forwards Emily Clarkand Whitney Cave. Lyons amassed 2,000 points at Bishop Ford High School, in Brooklyn, New York and ranks among the top 50 scorers in the history of New York City bas-ketball. Blot comes to Siena from nearby Colonie, where she garnered second team all-state honors in both her junior and senior years. Doemel walks on to the program from Holy Names Academy in Latham, N.Y. Meanwhile rook-ie bookends Clark and Cave arrive in Loudonville from Portland, Oregon and Queensland, Australia respec-tively.

Tonight marks the fourth time Siena has opened against Syracuse, with the Orangewomen holding a 2 to 1 lead. Siena's lone win, a 64-52 decision in 1992, also marks the last meeting between the two schools.

Siena has a 9-11 overall record against the 14 schools that currently comprise the Big East conference. Here is how the Saints have fared against Big East foes: Syracuse (4-3) Providence (0-4), Villanova (2-1), Pittsburgh (1-1), Georgetown,(1-0) Virginia Tech (1-0), St.John's (0-1), Connecticut (0-1).

Siena has dominated the MAAC over the past five years, winning four regular-season championships and one MAAC Tournament title. In that span, Siena is 73-17 (.811) in conference games.

After the success of the Dwayne Archboldbobble-head doll a season ago, the women's basketball team is getting onboard this national phenomenon. Later in the season, fans will receive Gunta Baskodolls at a game to be announced.